Mount the Bethlehem: the characters of the portal

Many of you will be on the verge of complete the assembly of the Bethlehem portal. Some of you will already have done it; and those of you who have a small manger may do so during the last weekend of November. In any case, riding the Nativity scene is a family tradition that forces us to unpack the storage boxes last Christmas to recover the structures, buildings, decoration, accessories, and, most importantly, the figures.

In the previous post we saw the most typical animals of the Birth; let's see now the essential characters of the Bethlehem portal.

Wooden crib with figures of the Holy Family and child with sheep

Wooden crib with figures of the Holy Family and child with sheep


The most popular characters of the Bethlehem portal

It is evident that some figures are more important than others, but we all try to make our Bethlehem highlight every detail of its assembly. The main characters of Bethlehem are:

  • The baby Jesus: Obviously, celebrating the Birth of Christ obliges include in the manger the figure of the child Jesus with the aura of sanctity. The usual thing is that it is represented wrapped in a white cloth on a bed on the floor, but in some places it is common to place it in the arms of the Virgin Mary. In South American countries, the child is not usually the night of the December 24.
  • Virgin Mary and Joseph: located on both sides of the baby Jesus, both look at the newborn. Mary is usually seated, Joseph is standing; she with a halo on his head, he with a cane in his hands. They are flanked by the figures of the ox and the mule.
  • Angel: Pastors are presented with the Angel of God to announce the good news of the Birth of Christ. The Annunciation It is one of the most typical scenes that we can see represented in the cribs of the World. When this scene is not represented, the Angel can be placed on the manger itself.
  • Wise Men: the tradition invites to place Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar as far as possible from the manger, and to approach them as the 5 of January approaches, when they are placed at the entrance of the stable where Jesus was born. They can go on their camels, walking or even kneeling as a sign of respect.

    Wise Man; horse riding detail for sale at

  • The cowherd boys: What would be of the portal without the shepherds and their flocks? In addition to the scene of the Annunciation, they can also be protagonists in large cribs, placed in the meadows or among the streets of the town.
  • Craftsmen and merchants: When we represent the town, or part of it, we must consider incorporating a craft workshop with a Carpenter, blacksmith, or gunsmith. In addition, among the streets of the town it is common to represent the stalls and markets of the merchants of the time: fruit, wool, eggs, bread, fish ...


Other characters in the manger

Beyond incorporating the main figures in the Bethlehem, there are many other secondary characters. We must bear in mind that we are representing the usual life of a first-century people, so possibilities that we have with the characters of our Bethlehem they will be infinite. We can include children playing in the streets, or in the field next to the manger; some beggar begging or a woman with water jugs.

If we have space and we like it represent the different scenes of the Bethlehem, maybe we will include special figures for the Flight to Egypt (scribes, priests, the Faráon, military, slaves) or for the Castle of Herod. Even many regionalist nativity scenes represent typical customs of each area, so it is not strange to see assemblies where Andalusian farmers appear, santons with the typical dresses of Provence or seamstresses making regional clothes.

Image of santons surrounding the Sagrada Familia in a Bethlehem of Provence. Photography: Wikipedia / Daniel Ferrier

About the figures of caganer, machorrita or the chestnut tree we'll talk about in another article about curiosities of the Nativity Scene around the World.

Tell us: what figures would you like to incorporate into your next Bethlehem portal?


Fecha: 27 / 11 / 2018|Categories: Curiosities|Tags: , , , , , |

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